This paper focuses on the role played by the Middle East Department of Britain's Colonial Office in shaping Palestine policy from early 1921 to September 1923, when the Mandate for Palestine took effect. It shows the department's efforts to neutralize the growing domestic challenges to the Jewish national home policy and highlights the contrast between the department's treatment of the successive Arab delegations and the privileged access accorded to the Zionists. It concludes that if there were times during this period that the policy could have been overturned, the efforts of the Middle East Department were largely responsible for keeping it on course.
Sahar Huneidi, who holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Manchester, is currently director of publications at the National Council for Culture, Arts, and Letters in Kuwait. This article has been adapted from a much longer chapter in her book, A broken Turst: Herbert Samuel, Zionism and the Palestinians (1920-25), forthcoming with I.B. Tauris.